New Jersey Edible Home Gardens
JUST DO IT!
Whenever I talk with people as a member of New Jersey Edible Home Gardens (NJEHG) about starting their own garden, the conversation usually goes “I love gardening and really want to do it but…” And that but includes any reason from poor soil, animal problems, time, cost and about a half dozen other reasons. I’ve also come to realize that most people know more then they think, and are usually only one step away. Here’s a list of the easiest solutions to help a start-up gardener get over the hump and achieve the goal of starting your garden this year. To give you an inside glimpse, after much talk and planning, I had delayed actually starting my garden for 2 years. A friend drove to my house and dropped of a raised bed that he had built. At that point I would have been insulting him if I didn’t plant something!
Cost: My first answer to this is always to look for solutions that are free. There is so much more out there then you realize! Try Freecycle or Craigslist, and don’t be afraid to get creative with things you already have. I get free plastic pots to start my seeds from the local garden store. Most towns also supply free mulch. The entire walkway in my garden is made of stones and pebbles that I dug out when I first turned the soil for my garden. You may even have an old trellis in your garage that you haven’t used in years which is perfect to start some string beans. In my mind, the cost of a start up garden should easily be below $50. That’s right, about ½ of what a normal American spends on Cable TV in a single month.
Time: It took me all of 30 minutes to start 20+ pepper seedlings and a half dozen eggplant. And this was done as a joint project with my 4 year old. This is a great morning project if you have kids. For those without children, I’m guessing you have even more free time and the process would go even faster! There are so many tricks out there that can help you save time. NJEHG can help! Want to take it a step further and make it a win-win? Ask the neighbor’s kids to come over every now and then to water the garden. For some reason kids always love doing chores at someone else’s house, and now you’re exposing them to something good.
Animals: I’ve been very fortunate to survive in my garden with only a 2 foot fence that is held up by sticks (another example of the free/recycled theme) and no animal thefts. I’ve seen deer and bear both walk through my yard regularly, so I know they’re out there. Perhaps I’m experiencing a stroke of good fortune, but low-cost fencing (Again, use dead tree logs as posts. I’ve had friends use PVC as well since it’s so inexpensive) seems to be the answer most homeowners will give (estimated cost $10). Also consider location: pots or hanging baskets on your deck can produce quite a lot!
Poor Soil: There are free and easy solutions to this one all over the place! Call your local DPW to find out if they have a free compost pick-up, most do. If not, there are many farms and neighbors in NJ that have their own compost. It’s easy to ask if they have some for little to no cost. If you prefer the cleaner bagged version at your garden store, they can be as low as $5 per bag.
By no means is this a comprehensive list. For further questions, advice or inspiration, you can reach us on our website or Facebook page. I found the internet to be a bit intimidating and overwhelming when I first broke ground on my home garden. I created NJEHG to help you get started, and enjoy your garden.
NJEHG’s top picks for easiest start up vegetables: Tomatoes, lettuce, string beans, cucumbers and peppers.
Philip N. Lombardo
President and Founder – New Jersey Edible Home Gardens